Saturday, June 27, 2020

Penn State Libraries Create Virtual Exhibition Highlighting Human Impacts On Our Planet, PA

Curators at
Penn State University Libraries' Eberly Family Special Collections Library have created  a new online exhibition, “Earth Archives: Stories of Human Impact,” which explores the intersection of the environment, human activity, and the documentary record.
First conceived as a physical exhibition, "Earth Archives" has been reimagined and presented virtually and will be viewable through Dec. 23, 2020.

The virtual exhibition invites the viewer to consider a range of environmental-related topics and will serve as a growing, centralized resource for the Libraries' rich trove of primary sources focused around key issues and themes: Climate Change and Weather Data, Energy and Extraction History, Environmental Disasters and Pollution, Arctic Exploration, Eco-Materiality and Future Speculations, Biodiversity, and Environmental Protection and Activism.

Pennsylvania has a long history of tension between the use of its natural resources, both above and below ground, to fuel growth and economic gain on the one hand, and the preservation of natural resources to support healthy and sustainable ecosystems and communities, on the other.

 In her influential work "Silent Spring" (1962) on the effects of pesticides on the environment and human health, Rachel Carson, a prominent Pennsylvanian, wrote, "Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species-- man--acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world." 

The exhibition will tell the stories of both historical and contemporary books and documents-- and their creators--  to highlight specific instances of our "significant power" to alter the environment in both destructive and constructive ways, and the power of storytelling to communicate the urgency of the present moment.

Highlights of the exhibition include virtual representations of varied print, manuscript, and art works such as a first edition of "Silent Spring"; key early climate science findings from 19th-century scientists such as Eunice Newton Foote and John Tyndall; an album of seaweeds collected by women off the English coast around 1850; a manuscript diary illustrating glaciers encountered on the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899; documents and publications related to Donora, Pennsylvania, which became the site of one of the worst air pollution disasters in U.S. history; and the records of EcoAction, a student environmental activism group at Penn State, among others.

Student Activism At Penn State

In conjunction with the online exhibition, Special Collections is working with filmmakers at the CommAgency, a Penn State student-run media production agency, to make a short film on the history of student environmental activism at Penn State.    Click Here to view the film.

Earth Archives: Stories of Human Impact" is curated by Ben Goldman, archivist for curatorial services and strategy and Clara Drummond, curator and exhibitions coordinator in Special Collections. 

The dates for the physical exhibition will be announced when we can once again gather on campus. 

For more information or for questions about this exhibition, please contact Ben Goldman at or Clara Drummond at

PA Conservation Heritage

To learn more about Pennsylvania environmental heritage, visit the PA Conservation Heritage website for documentaries, stories, an historical timeline and much more.

Earth Day 50 PA

And to learn more about the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in Pennsylvania, visit the Earth Day 50 PA website.

Related Articles - Remembering Earth Day 1970:

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Edwin Charles: The Earth Day Teach-In Must Continue

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Marci Mowery: A Sense Of Place In This World

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Richard Lewis: What I Did On The First Earth Day 50 Years Ago

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Wayne Kober: Impact & Inspiration From First Earth Day

-- Earth Day 50 PA: Earth Day At 50: Progression, Emergence, Park & Rec Involvement

-- PA Environmental Council At 50: We Had To Do Something

-- PA Environmental Council At 50: Taking The Lead

-- PA Environmental Council At 50: A New Millennium

-- PA Environmental Council At 50: Securing Our Environmental Rights

Related Articles - Earth Day 50:

-- Op-Ed: My Fellow Conservatives Are Out Of Touch On The Environment - Fmr. Gov. Tom Ridge

-- Op-Ed: 50th Earth Day: Time To Consider Wiser Course - We Are All Of This Earth And Dependent On It - Bernie McGurl, Lackawanna River Conservation Association

-- Op-Ed: Earth Day 1970 Changed My Life - Carol Collier, The Academy Of Natural Sciences

-- Op-Ed: Earth Day 50: A Wakeup Call To The Scientific Community - Science Matters -Roland Wall, Director, Ruth Patrick Center For Environmental Research

-- Op-Ed: Earth Day - 50 Years And Counting - Joanne Shafer, Centre County Recycling Coordinator

-- Op-Ed: Let's Celebrate The Importance Of Nature On Earth Day - Christopher Kocher, Wildlands Conservancy

-- Op-Ed: State Government Is Ignoring Pennsylvania’s Constitutional Right To A Clean Environment For Generations Yet To Come - Ron Evans, PA Environmental Defense Foundation

-- Op-Ed: Earth Day 50 - A Reflection - Stop The Deception Before It’s Too Late - Larry J. Schweiger, Fmr President & CEO National Wildlife Federation

-- Earth Day 2020 – Bringing Pennsylvanians Together Even Though We’re Apart

-- DEP’s Blog: Earth Day 50 PA: DEP Staff Reflections

-- DEP’s Blog: By Acting On Climate, We Help Make Every Day Earth Day - DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell

-- DEP’s Blog: Peregrine Falcons Soar In PA As Earth Day Celebrates 50 Years

-- DCNR Good Natured Blog: Looking Toward Earth Day 2070 - DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

-- DCNR Good Natured Blog: Earth Day At Home

-- PA Parks & Forests Foundation Posts Special Earth Day 50 PA Newsletter

-- PA Forestry Assn: Special Earth Day Edition Of Pennsylvania Forests Quarterly

-- Shippensburg University Hosted Virtual Campus Climate Commitment Signing Event

-- Pittsburgh Organizations Going 100% Renewable Energy On Earth Day's 50th Anniversary

-- Western PA Conservancy: Honoring Earth Day By Preserving An Historic Farm In Westmoreland County

-- Pocono Arts Council Announces Online The Earth Speaks VI - A Juried Exhibition On The Environmental Crisis

-- Fmr EPA Officials Release Special Environmental Protection - A Half Century Of Progress Reports For Students, Teachers

[Posted: June 27, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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